Fandom: Dragonball Z
Publish Date: 8/10/2002 to 1/3/2003
Disclaimer: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, I do not own DBZ.
"Okay, where are you?" Videl growled under her breath, surveying the scenery from a bird’s eye view. They’d been given the day off school because it was the eight year anniversary of the Cell Games, and there were going to be parades and all sorts of thing to celebrate the defeat of Cell.
Translation: her father was going to be hamming it up, continuing the lie. And the real hero, Son Gohan, was going to remain in obscurity, just as he had for the past eight years.
She’d gone over to his house to see him, but he was acting…well, strange was the kindest word she could put to it. Namely, she’d knocked on the door, and he’d opened it…and then brushed past her, calling over his shoulder that he was going to see Piccolo. He had to have known she was there—he ran right into her, for the love of Kami! But for all that he reacted she might as well have been invisible.
Needless to say, she was a little bit ticked off about that. Okay, she was furious. How dare he!
They’d been working on strengthening the strange mind-to-mind bond they shared, though she still didn’t know exactly what it was, though she suspected that Gohan did. Now that she was trying to track him down, she decided it was a good thing they’d been practicing with that thing.
"I’ve got you now," she chuckled, swooping down into the trees. Flipping over, she landed gracefully on her feet and took a look around. He had to be nearby…but she couldn’t pick up any thoughts or emotions from him. That was another thing they’d quickly mastered—how to close the door on the bond, figuratively speaking. It was useful for the sake of privacy, but right now, it was frustrating beyond belief.
Videl wandered through the foliage, following what she could get from the bond. He was moving…out of the forest…
Finally, she found him. He was sitting on top of a high hill not far outside the forest. His back was to her; he didn’t react when she approached.
"Gohan?" she called tentatively. He didn’t answer. She tried again, more forcefully. "Gohan!"
This time she got an answer. "You really shouldn’t be here."
"I can do whatever I want, thank you very much," she answered angrily. "What’s the big idea, acting like I don’t exist?"
"It’s not a good day for me, okay?" he said softly, hoping desperately that she would just go away and leave him to the rampaging storm of emotions that always tore through him on this particular day.
He should have known better. Videl was far too stubborn to just let him off the hook. "Oh, that’s your excuse? It’s a bad day? How do you think I feel about today? It’s been eight years to the day since Cell died, and my father’s out there, making an idiot of himself over something that never really happened! And I have to put up with it. How about that, Gohan? How’s that for a bad day? You have nothing to complain about, Gohan!"
"Wanna bet?" he climbed to his feet unexpectedly. "You have no idea."
"You defeated Cell, Gohan!" Videl stamped her foot impatiently, feeling more like a little girl throwing a temper tantrum then an eighteen-year-old woman dealing with a difficult friend. "What could possibly be bothering you about today?"
"Don’t," he turned and looked at her, his face void of emotion. "Just don’t."
"Don’t what?" she knew she was being unreasonable, but when her curiosity was aroused, there was only one way to settle it down again.
"I don’t want to talk about it," he snarled, then started walking away, down the hill.
"Oh no you don’t!" she jumped in front of him. That was the thing that was making her so angry—the fact that he wouldn’t even offer her a semblance of an explanation. That, and the fact that he’d nearly trampled her on his way out the door.
"Videl, please!" he said pleadingly, moving to one side to try and step around her. She moved to block him. He tried the other side; she moved again. "Videl, I really don’t want to talk about it."
"Why not?" she demanded.
Gohan simply stared at her for a second, then actually picked her up, spun around, and set her down before turning and continuing down the hill, all without answering.
"God, you’re acting like you just lost your best friend in the world!" she yelled at him.
Surprisingly, he stopped dead in his tracks and whirled around to face her, anger plastered across his handsome features. "What did you say?"
Taken aback by his reaction, it took Videl a second to reply. "I said you’re acting like your best friend just died or something."
Before she could even blink, he was less than a foot away from her. "You really don’t get it, do you? You wanna know what my problem is? It’s the day. Tell me again what day it is?"
Videl unconsciously took a step back to try and put some distance between herself and Gohan’s all-too-visible anger. "The—the anniversary of the Cell Games. Eight years since you beat Cell."
"Exactly," he snarled, then stepped back, turning away from her again. "Would you like to know what happened at the Cell Games, Videl? The real story, I mean."
"Tell me," she answered flatly, not understanding what could have possibly happened at the Games that would make him behave like this.
"The real fun began when I watched Cell kill Number 16," he began in a voice laden with anger. "If 16 hadn’t been programmed to kill my father, he never would’ve hurt any living thing. Well, Cell ripped him to pieces, and then stepped on his head. This, on top of the fact that I was watching everyone that was important to me get their butts kicked by the Cell Juniors. I lost it. I lost my temper. And I went to an entirely new level of Super Saiyan. I explained to you what that whole thing was about."
He paused then, and Videl prodded him. "Keep going."
"First I took care of the Cell Juniors. Then I went hand-to-hand against Cell himself, and I was winning," Gohan continued, his tone making it quite obvious that he would have rather been having his arms and legs sawed off at that point than discuss what they were talking about. "I had him against the ropes. It was the most incredible rush. I was invincible! I actually managed to blast his arms and legs off."
"That’s good, right?" Videl asked.
"Yes, that was good. It’s what happened next. My father told me to finish Cell off, to get rid of him. And I said no. I wanted Cell to suffer. I wanted him to be in pain. Cell took advantage of that to regenerate. He knew he couldn’t beat me. So he started to self-destruct. If we hit him, he’d explode, a blast big enough to destroy the entire planet. And if we waited, the same thing would happen. And this was because of me. Oh, just wait, it gets better."
He turned his head slightly to look at her out of the corner of his eye.
"What could we do? Well, my father had an answer. See, Dad knew this trick called an Instant Transmission. What that meant was that if he could sense someone, he could teleport to their location. If someone else is touching him when he does this, they’ll be teleported with him. Well, guess what he did. He teleported Cell off of our planet before he could finish self-destructing. Thus died Son Goku, my father."
Videl’s jaw dropped. "But…I thought—"
"Cell came back," Gohan snapped bitterly. "My father’s sacrifice was in vain. That’s when I took Cell down. And I didn’t give him a chance to regrow anything the second time around. But before he died, he managed to take out another one of my friends. Then he tried to go after Vegeta, and I took the blast, losing the use of my left arm in the process. I beat him one-handed."
Gohan turned around then. She’d never seen such sad eyes.
"So you see, Videl, my father was killed by Cell. And it was my fault. I’m the reason my little brother doesn’t have a father. Dad had to clean up after my mistake. He died because of my pride, my arrogance…and my stupidity." His last three words were the barest hint of a whisper. "That’s my really big secret, Videl. And that’s why today is not a good day for me. Okay?"
Without waiting for a response, he pivoted and continued on his way, leaving a stunned Videl standing alone on the hill.
"Just leave him alone," a soft voice said from behind her.
She spun around. "Krillen!"
"It’s not an easy day for any of us, Videl," Krillen sighed, walking closer to her. "Gohan especially. It wasn’t his fault, but of course he doesn’t believe us when we tell him that. All of us lost something when Goku left. Everyone lost a friend—for me, it was my best friend. ChiChi lost her husband. But Gohan lost his father, and nothing can make up for that kind of loss. Usually we just leave him alone, and he beats himself up over it. We just send someone out to check on him every once in a while, make sure he doesn’t really lose it. That’s why I’m here. The whole thing makes poor Goten pretty miserable, though."
It was then that she saw that he had tears in his eyes. "I didn’t…I mean…I didn’t know…"
He silenced her with a wave of his hand. "Give him a little time. Right now he’s not even a person, he’s just a bundle of raw emotions. I’d be willing to bet that now he’s off somewhere, brooding, and not only beating himself up over what happened at the Games, but over the fact that he took it out on you."
"Should I apologize?" Videl was really agonizing.
Krillen shook his head. "He wouldn’t want to hear it right now. Give him a little time, and chances are that he’ll apologize to you."
"Okay…" Videl answered doubtfully.
Videl was propped up in bed reading late that evening. Outside her window, she could hear the party still going on. In her father’s honor, of course.
Her conscience was really giving her a hard time about the situation with Gohan. Why was she so damned stubborn? Now he was mad at her because thanks to her he’d had to relive that awful day. And he’d been what, ten or eleven at the time? Too young to lose a parent in any manner, especially like that.
Sighing, she gave up on the book. It was just a feeble attempt to distract herself from the problem. Tossing the reading material onto the comforter beside her, she leaned over to pick up the phone.
I’ll call him, she thought. I’ll call him and apologize. Then it’s off my conscience.
But she froze with her hand on the receiver. What if he wouldn’t talk to her? What if he got angry again? She knew she was being silly, but when you’re uncertain about something, your mind can cook up the most outrageous possible outcomes, and become convinced that they’re possible.
She vacillated for a good sixty seconds with her hand still on the receiver when the phone rang. Videl actually jumped back, and for a moment just stared at the phone.
Get a grip! she mentally chastised herself as she reached over again and picked up the phone. She hesistated for just a moment before speaking. "Hello?"
A second of silence. Then a timid voice asked, "Videl?"
She smiled at the sound of the voice, but kept her tone level. "Hi, Gohan." She could almost hear him sweating on the other end of the line.
"Umm…Videl, I…umm…" he stammered while she waited. Finally, "…I…I wanted to apologize for what I said earlier. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry. You didn’t know. I’m sorry."
"I should apologize too," she could have sighed with relief. "I need to stop being so stubborn. You have a right to keep a few secrets," she paused, then added, "I guess."
Momentary silence, then a dry chuckle. "Since when do I get secrets with you?"
"Never," she admitted. "But if I start doing something like that again, just do us both a favor and smack me upside the head."
"Gotcha," he answered. His tone was lighter, but she could still pick out something else in his voice, and it worried her.
"Gohan, are you okay?"
That silence again. "Not really. But I will be. Don’t worry."
"Well…okay, if you say so," Videl said dubiously. "But you sound exhausted. Go to bed and get some rest. Right now."
That elicited another wry laugh. "Yes, Mother. Good night, Videl."
She hung up the phone feeling strangely vindicated. There was something telling her that she hadn’t even gotten the full story, but she decided to disregard that particularly poisonous little thought. He didn’t deserve to have her breathing down his neck right now.
Videl clicked off the light and pulled the comforter up to her chin. At least they were on good terms again. And at that moment, that was all that mattered.